Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mid Week Cool Links Recap 1:

For those who are curious, don’t follow me on Twitter or just missed these I’ve decided to start posting all the cool links and videos I’ve found in the last week in one cohesive place. So enjoy!

Remove Car Dent With Airduster - The most popular videos are a click away

KatGirl Studio Equipment

Because a lot of people have asked me in the past and at the conference here is a list of all of the equipment I use. If you have any questions about any of these items, how to use them or the best places to get them please always feel free to ask me.

Computer: I have an upgraded Dell Inspiron 6000 with a frosted monitor.

I use Photoshop CS3, Painter X for art and Flash CS4, Illustrator CS4, and Dreamweaver CS4 for my website.

Tablet: I have a 9x12 Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. They are no longer available since they have the new Intuos 4.

Monitor Calibration:
I use the Spyder 2 Pro color calibration software by Datacolor. Once again they no longer make 2 because they have moved on to the Spyder 3 Pro.

Printer Calibration:
I have a PrintFix Pro also by Datacolor.

Printer: I use the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 and 8 color dye-jet 13x19 fine art printer. I use it for all my printing except for business cards & postcards. All my portfolio pieces, mini books, and the book dummy I had at the conference where printed on this printer.

Printer Paper: Although they make many shiny papers for the Pixma I use the Matte Photo paper for most of my printing because it has a nice velvety look to the art. It also comes in 4x6 and 13x19 size or you can get the Premium Fine Art Matte paper honestly they are pretty much the same. I print my Giclee’s in my shop on 13x19 100% Cotton Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper.

Mat Cutter: I use a Logan 650 Framer's Edge Mat Cutter.

Drawing Paper: All my sketches are done on Canson Tracing Paper and then I trace a clean copy onto a piece of Canson Vidalon Vellum.

Drawing Materials: For all non-photorealistic pieces I draw I use .5 dark blue Uni Color mechanical pencil lead. It’s made by Mitaubishi but the only place I know of to get it as at one of these stores. My mech. pencil is a PaperMate Pro Touch II.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 5 Monday August 10th

SCBWI 2009 Conference day 4

Day 4 of the conference started off with a key note by Dinah Stevenson:

May the 4 C’s Be With You: An Editor Suggests Strategies for Hard Times
Creativity: imagination, thoughts, what if’s, making stuff up.
Be brave enough to live creatively.
Creativity is something you do, not something you search for outside yourself.
It is an endless journey to discover yourself. The work of art is what you do after you find yourself.
Saying what you mean in your own way is being creative.
Write something only you can create.
Craft: craft resides in the details.
Community: never let anyone tell you that reading is not important.
Chocolate: you are doing a difficult job and for that you deserve a reward.

And after a very short break was followed by the wonderful Ingrid Law the author of Savvy which sold out before I could get a copy.

Writing Magic: From the Head to the Heart
Put everything you experience into your work because it is a part of who you are.
Wrote savvy after her previous book’s 45 rejections.

I was so captivated by her story I forgot to write much of anything down. She is a fantastic storyteller.

After the morning key notes I went to another of Steven Malk’s sessions:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: An Agents Guide from Query Letter to Published Book
Writers House is one of the largest independent agencies in the world.
His grandmother opened one of the first children’s book stores in the world in South Africa called the White Rabbit.
Slow down- rushing will never ever help you. Think about your career as a whole not about getting the project out there before it’s ready.
Understand that all your decisions will have consequences.
Always right a personal letter not a form letter.
Don’t leave anything to chance.
Focus on what you can control.
Make everything you can is flawless.
Don’t let anyone else outwork you.
Query letters: make them count.
What made them [the agent or editor] seem like the right person to send your letter too.
Query Letters should not be more than a page.
You need to make sure the agent accepts multi sub queries and state that you are doing so in the letter.
If one person picks you give the others a chance to make an offer as well even if you still go with the first person.
He likes the phone more than email.
Three types of deals:
The publisher takes advantage of the author/artist and the creator walks away feeling resentful.
Both sides walk away happy.
The publisher walks away feeling bullied.
Understand everything that is in your contract.
Strike the balance between the eager author and the over eager author.
Make stores aware of your book before it comes out.
Start with regional book stores and organizations and work outward when starting to build networks.
Your book will succeed over time not right away.
Don’t obsess over your Amazon rating.
Everything you do has a long standing effect.
Your hard work will pay off.
Publishers said All in a Day was too Californian but it got a lot of blog coverage and is now the writers first best seller

After lunch I went to Susan Sherman’s session:

The Publishing Process: An Overview of the Design & Art Direction Process

Walter Lorraine discovered Katrina Hyman
Computers liberated design
They read everything as it comes in.
Good manuscripts circulate around to everyone.
They work on the book as a team; art director, editor, author and illustrator.
They look to illustrators to expand the manuscript.
She likes receiving emails with a line about yourself and a few low rez attachments and link to website.
Art circulates around the office much the same way as the manuscripts.
The characters are more important that anything on a cover.
She starts with kooky fonts first then refines them till she finds the one that’s perfect.

After that we had our final key note by Kathleen Duey:

Transmutation: Books that Matter
Write down conversations you had at the conference.
Go back and annotate your notes.
When you go home go through the business cards of those you met and write down things about them. Contact everyone who gave you a card and thank them for talking to you.
Stay in touch with the people you met here.
Put quotes on the wall that people said here at the conference that meant something to you.
“We write by the light of all the books we have read.” Richard Peck
“All cultures teach their young through story.”

After all the wonderful sessions and key notes were done I went to collect my big back of books then have signed and meet some of the people who had meant a lot to me growing up.

I got to meet Karen Cushman whom I had wanted to meet since I was 12. I am dyslexic and reading was very difficult for me when I was young. I actually hated read a lot until in the 7th grade we read the Midwife’s Apprentice. I absolutely loved the book and historical fiction and went on to read her other books on my own. Thanks to her I now love reading, read every day, not because I have to but because I want to. We also own 7 book cases over flowing with books. I got hard covers of my favorites of hers The Midwife’s Apprentice and Catherine Called Birdy signed and soft covers signed for my two little cousins.

Next I got to meet Holly Black and tell her how fantastic her speech was. I was just going to take a picture of her but she insisted we take a picture together. So here’s us leaning over the table. Oddly enough the Spiderwick book they had for sale at the SCBWI book store was the same one I had brought from home. I did however have to pre movie copy of the Field Guide.

After Holly Black I went to get my copy of Terrible Things signed by Eve Bunting.

While having a friend hold my place I ran over to have Sherman Alexie sign a copy of his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian before he left. His speech was so compelling I am greatly looking forward to reading his book.

I also got to meet David Wiesner whom I have wanted to meet since I was 8 and Tuesday came out. Like I said before reading was extremely hard for me so his wordless picture books were some of my favorite books. I managed to find a hard copy of Tuesday at a Borders half an hour from me so I got that signed along with hard copies of The Three Pigs, Sector 7 and Flotsam.

After waiting in David’s impossibly long line I had just enough time to catch Ingrid Law before she felt. I told her how fantastic I thought her verbal storytelling was and that I would have had her sign a copy of her book for me if they hadn’t sold out before I could get one. Savvy is next on my list of books I need to go pick up.

With my trove of signed books in tow I went to meet up with my boy friend in the lobby and found out they had been filming an episode of Lie to Me all day in the pool/bar area. We hung out for awhile to let traffic get less hectic and then headed out to or next hotel in Anaheim. On the way we saw someone cruising down the freeway in their Tesla Roadster. We got to our nice comfy hotel and got to watch to fireworks from Disneyland. And for the first time in many weeks I actually got to relax.

All the people I met at the conference were awesome and I hope you all keep in touch!

For more photos & video from the conference feel free to visit my FaceBook

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 4 Sunday August 9th

SCBWI 2009 Conference day 3Day 3 started off with Dan Yaccarino:

Say Yes!

Always say yes
Create as many opportunities as you can
Don’t take rejection personally

And after a very short break was followed by:

Holly Black
Examining the Strange: The Basics of Fantasy Writing

Her life is very much like Spiderwick
Read both adult and kids fantasy
Children’s books are very genre less
“Fiction lets you try on the life of someone else.”
“Fantasy is the language of metaphor.”
Changelings = alienation
Werewolf = fear of hurting others
Be careful with your metaphors when writing fantasy.
Fantasy must contain magic and wonder; the fantastical.
“All stories are fantasies; some are just more honest about it than others.”
“You have to believe in the fantastical in which you are reading.”
“Fantasy is very close to Historical Fiction because like Historical Fiction you have to take the reader to a place they can never go.”
Closed fantasy = magic is hidden, like in harry potter.
Open fantasy = magic is common place and normal, like in The Lord of the Rings.
Day logic = magic works the same every time like science
Night logic = more intuitive but not the same every time
Holly Black’s Crazy Fantasy Plotting Theory: Fantasy must have a human story and a fantastical story.The resonance in a story is between those two points.

After the morning key notes I went to Dan Lazar’s session:

How to craft a Winning Query Letter: Secrets to Keep You Out of the Rejection Pile

He is an sgent at writers house
“One voice of decent is louder than eight voices of approval.”
He takes a lot of people on from the slush pile
Great query letters trump referrals everyday
In a Query Letter start by saying hello. Then tell the agent of editor you would like to send your manuscript. Then tell them a little about the book then tell a little about yourself.
A query Letter should never be more than a page.
Never apologize for being new or unpublished.
You don’t need colored paper or fancy graphics, or packaging for your query letter.
Always send the first 5-15 pages
Always know who you are sending your query too. Never say “dear agent” or “to whom it may concern”
Always use specific compliments to the agent or editor never insincere or generalized compliments.
Never say “…I would like to send you my fictional novel…”
Never use “what if” questions in query when describing your book.
Don’t say what genre it is just say it’s a novel the agent or editor will know what genre it belongs in.
Don’t make your synopsis vague. Make it unique, original and specific.
Don’t toot your own horn just let the work speak for itself
Never say your manuscript is sure to be a best seller, blockbuster, or award winner.
Don’t tell them that readers like your work or what they think people think of your work.
Include SASE with your query letter
Always put your whole name so the agent/editor knows who to address
Put contact info at the bottom of the email but the top of a letter
Don’t use the word quirky it’s basically like saying your character is “interesting.”
Always show who your character loves and who loves them.
Offering an agent or publisher a 6 week exclusive on your work before submitting to others is perfectly acceptable.
Always follow up via email, don’t call!
Put the first 5 pages under the query is sending it by snail –mail. When sending via email paste into email after your query.
Always say which works the agent represented that you liked in the beginning of your letter.
In the query if it is not a standalone book mention in one line that you are working on the next book or that it is a series.
Mention in your letter if your manuscript is either an exclusive or multi submission because agents and editors like to know upfront.
Log line = this meets that
Mentioning the age of the character in your query letter is important.
40,000-70,00 words for YA

After the morning session we got to here a wonderful key note by Richard Peck at the Golden Kite Luncheon.

“A story moves forward because it cannot go back.”
“You can teach children or fear their parents you cannot do both.”
“We [writers] cannot be fired because we are unemployed.”
Fiction is dramatized truth that no one dares to write.
“An Epiphany is the part where everything changes and you can’t go back.”

After the luncheon I went to David Wiesner & Dinah Stevenson’s session:

Creating and Editing a Wordless Picture Book

He makes mini book dummies at the sketch stage, the drawing stage and the final art stage.
At the moment things change it can’t be ambiguous it has to be stated.
In a Wordless Picture Book dialogue should only be used to move the story forwards.
He uses model magic for making character models.

After the afternoon session we had a key note by Elizabeth Law.

From Jonny Tremain to Edward Cullen: How Children’s Publishing is Changing, and How to Meet the Challenges head-on

Egmont Books is run as a children’s charity. They have only 8 people in their whole company.
She is accepting anything sent to her in the next 3 months via email attachment with SCBWI LA in the sub line.
She is looking for stories with strong concepts.
YA hard cover is on the rise and growing.
Books must have Good pitch-able hooks; this meets that. Know what your story is.
She relies on agents to screen for her to weed out stuff
Know who you’re writing for but only write what fits for you not what’s hot! Never be afraid to ask questions.

In the evening I hung out with some super nice people in the Hotel lobby Lounge including Marietta Zacker. I never did run into Marietta again on Monday and would like to thank her again for chatting with us. If anyone has her email please let me know.

Day 3 Saturday August 8th

SCBWI 2009 Conference day 2

Day 2 started off with:

Creating an Extraordinary Picture Book
Kadir Nelson: Extraordinary picture books are those that speak to a personal and universal truth.
Eve Bunting: Extraordinary picture books must last a long time, have heart and must speak to the creators and readers.
Melinda Long: Extraordinary picture books must have a strong appeal to both children and adults.
Eve Bunting: Extraordinary picture books should make you feel strongly in whatever way it intends.
Kadir Nelson: you need a personal connection with the story.

And after a very short break was followed by:

Karen Cushman
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities
“The function of freedom is to free others.”
She never planned to be a writer. She wrote because she could not dance.
“Don’t listen to advise.”
She reads over and polishes what she wrote the day before starting on the next section.
Her plots grow from her characters.
She has to read while she writes. She says to read with a pad of paper and pen.
Write what you wonder about, what you want to know about, what you value. Write the story you’ve always wanted to read.
“The first draft is for finding out what the story is about.”
“Giving power to thoughts is what happens when you decide to write.”
She loves to do research.
“There is nothing more beautiful and true than a book before you write it.”
“We write because we are writers.”
“Words are sacred and they deserve respect.”

After the morning key notes I went to Kadir Nelson’s session:

Words and Pictures; Pictures and Words
When making picture book think about:
Comp & scale

Keep your experiences in your head and recreate the mood from the memories that you remember.
Look for paintings with similar moods to what you want to achieve.

After lunch we had a key note by Ellen Hopkins:

Not for the Faint of Heart: The Climb to the Top

Publishing is a mountain.
Writing in the land of no
“You don’t decide to be a writer, you are a writer.”
“Luck is something you create.”
“Capitalize on your own experience.”

And an Agents Panel:

The State of the Business
What do they want to see and what are their lists like?
Marietta Zacker of Nacy Gallt Literary: their list runs the gambit or age and content. They are accepting ms via snailmail. Is looking for every age group and genre. Send query and synopsis.
Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary: Is looking for all genres and ages. Visit website and email them. Paste first 10 pages into email and send query.
Dan Lazar of Writers House: Is looking for mostly middle grade and some YA. Especially stories about weird kids in small towns. He is very interested in graphic novels.
Stephen Fraser of Jennifer De Chiara Literary: Is looking for all ages. Welcomes unpublished authors. Especially looking for people whose careers they can cultivate.
Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary: reps authors herself in both the US and the UK. Her job is her passion and her vocation. Write short queries via email and past the first 5 pages in the email.
Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates: She wants first novels. Strong voices, wide range, likes literary books, like funny books, put SCBWI LA in subject line.
How has the economy affected publishing?
Brenda: publishing has gotten leaner; they like to see more finished work.
Sarah: lists are being cut. Work has to be very polished. She only reps non Picture Books.
Stephen: you have to celebrate when things seem the bleakest.
Dan: books are selling for less than before but they are still selling. Writers email queries and first 5 pages in email.
Kelly: the market is hurting less in children’s than the adult market. Summer is usually a dead month but is doing well this year. Publishers today are less willing to take risks than before.
How much time they spent working on the editing vs selling process?
Sarah: spends the most time looking for talent and voice than polish. She is looking for potential. She does a lot of work with people to get you the best deal possible.
Stephen: wants to be a nurturer of careers not just projects.
Sarah: wants to help people build their careers.
What is the one big thing in contracts to watch out for?
Make sure the discount royalty isn’t too low.
The out of print clause.
Last words:
Brenda: only; connect.
Sarah: squeeze the juice from the fruit.
Stephen: every a good book has a home
Kelly: everyone here wants to fall in love with your work. That thrill of finding new talent.
Marietta: make sure you communicate it and communicate it well.
Dan: don’t harp on themes and ideas in your query letter. Show how your character is quirky don’t just say they are.

In the afternoon I went to Eve Bunting’s session:

What Makes a Good Picture Book
S.S. short & Simple
VV very visual
O Original
NR not in rhyme
WS worth saying. It should be fundamental.
NB Never be Boring. You can escape this with a little humor. A yawn may be bad manners but it is an honest opinion.
AAA The aaaah factor at the end of a book. Because Picture Books are short ever word counts. Have the ending in your mind before you write the story.
BP be persistent. Be proud.
Don’t rush to send your book out. Wait 2 weeks and then the read it again.
Write something worth saying
Dare to be original
A bird does not sing because it has a message it sings because it has a song.

And this is where my netbook ran out of batteries so if anyone has notes from Wendy Loggia’s key note please let me know!

The portfolio show was awesome and I came away with only a few business cards left at my table. All the mini portfolio books, mini coloring books and postcards thankfully went home with those who viewed my portfolio.

The Pool Side Gala was fantastic fun again this year and the Hyatt staff was kind enough to bring me a Grilled Turkey sandwich since I was allergic to all the food they were serving.

More Pictures and Videos from the conference can be found on my FaceBook.

Monday, August 17, 2009

SCBWI 2009 Conference day 1

Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie was fantastic! His speech was so compelling I simply had to go out and get his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Here are a few quotes from his key note I wrote down:
“As a writer people hand you your lives on a daily basis, so what do you do.”
“Adults are already set in their ways but kids change by what they are exposed too. Treat that with respect.”
“People read books to escape, to become the characters.”
Sherman Alexie's website

David Wiesner
David Wiesner’s speech was quite funny, entertaining and full of pictures. I took a lot of pictures from his key note and the can be found here.
David Wiesner’s website

Steve Malk
After key notes I went to Steve Malk’s session on The Big Picture: How to Build your Illustration Career.
Illustrators make up about 40% of his list.

Educate yourself:

About the market. Spend time in independent stores along with big name book stores. Also look at award list books.
You should have a sub to horn book.
Look at Barbra Cooney’s work.

Have a career model:
Think about how you would like to fit in the market.
Find models and analyze their careers

Don’t Dibble Dabble:
Don’t just make children books a hobby, it must be a passion.

Only you can own your career decisions:

Each decision you make affects your career. Everything is important.

Getting your work out into the world:
Your portfolio tells them what type of person you are. The time you take to layout your portfolio says a lot about you.
Have 12 pieces in your portfolio but no more than 20 pieces.
Show them you understand the conventions of children’s books. And that you can tell a visual story. Always show a few sequential spreads.
Be neurotic about your portfolio.
Look at Marla Frazee’s work more closely.
The Magician’s Elephant
Send out promo postcards early spring, early fall and summer.

“Work 5 times as hard as everyone else.”AG ford
Art directors and agents love to find new awesome people.
Put a few spreads from a story and then mention the whole dummy is available.
Publishers like author/illustrators.
Make dummies as finished as possible so it doesn’t look half baked.
Big publishers pay advances of 8-10k or 10-15k to new illustrators or new author/illustrators.
Talk about your work in your blog, what inspired you
Cover letters are important to him. Send them via email with website link and offer hard copies.

A few great sites he recommends:

Success Stories: Four Editors Distill the Secrets of a Successful Book
Courtney Bongiolatti: simplify spreads, make everything there for a reason.
Jordan Brown: People will always interpret your book in way you will not to attend.
Ari Lewin: top five reasons the Heir series did well.
#1 Companion books not a series.
#2 Good pace, it keeping the momentum going. Making it impossible to put down.
#3 Books are set in real modern world not an outside fantasy world. It’s normal and modern.
#4 It appeal to boys and girls equally.
#5 Cover design! The covers are awesome.

Elizabeth Parisi

In the Afternoon I went to Elizabeth Parisi’s session Book Covers: How to fit your style into the current market.
Design books that look good at 1 inch tall.
Make covers simpler and more iconic.
Don’t show too much of the character because the reader likes to see themselves as the character especially in YA. awesome book jacket site
Middle grade covers are mostly illustrated covers
Limited pallets are in
Covers are given usually a 1-2 month deadline. You are usually given the first two weeks you make rough designs.
For picture books you really need and agent.

Betty Birney

Here are few quotes from her key note speech:
“Every book needs something to root for. Something must be at stake; something that matters.”
“Every story needs a well defined world with rules.”

At the Wine and Cheese Reception I met a lot of the cool people I follow on twitter like Cynthea Liu, Fran Cannon Slayton, Elizabeth Dulemba. And a few awesome people I met last year who knew me as “the girl with the purple kitty cards” apparently Kiki has made my cards infamous!

The Illustrator Social was even better than last year. Met many friendly illustrators I saw throughout the conference. David Diaz was kind enough to advise me on which pieces I should leave in and take out of my portfolio before the show on Saturday.

The night ended once again with a bunch of us hanging out in the lobby chatting and sharing our work.

LA Trip Recap Day 1 Thursday August 6th:

Now that the Conference and our first art & wine festival are over I finally have time to actually write about my trip. I’ve going to split the posts up by day so it doesn’t get to long.

Day 1 Thursday August 6th:

on our way to LA! I will miss our kitties, good thing we have a roommate so they won't get lonely.2:41 AM Aug 6th

When we finally got to the LA area Scott surprised me by taking me to the Santa Monica Pier which I had never been to. We walked on the beach for awhile then walked along the pier.

Photos from the pier:

We ever got to see a pelican soaring around on the air currents.

Around two the aquarium opened up, it was small but very cool. They had little horn and spotted sharks who liked to poke their noses out of the water and dance. One of the little sharks had come from another aquarium that had left him out in the sun. Sadly he now has a permanent black sunburn. We continued to wander around the aquarium till it was time to head to our hotel to check in.

After we checked into the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza we went down to the lobby to meet and chat with other conference attendees.

Photos of the hotel:

More videos from the pier and photos are on my FaceBook

Monday, August 3, 2009

SCBWI Summer Conference & the Los Gatos Fiesta De Artes

In a few days we’ll be leaving for the SCBWI Summer conference in LA. Even though I’m super busy I thought I’d share with you all the book dummy for Stalking the Elusive Quetzal. I did not send out for this it is 100% printed and assembled here in the studio. I tried really hard to make it look like a real book and I’m very pleased with the results.

Oh and don’t forget!

KatGirl Studio will have a booth at their very first Art and Wine Festival on August 15th & 16th at the Los Gatos Fiesta De Artes in Down Town Lost Gatos. So if you live nearby come out and say hi! We will have a ton of cool items available and the newly completed Stalking the Elusive Quetzal book dummy will be on display.